The first time I tired a beer mac & cheese, it was bad – reaaaaaallly bad. I used a hoppy pale ale, which in retrospect, was definitely not the best choice. That was about a year ago now, and a recent trip to Dogfish Head’s Brewpub got me thinking about the concept again. They have a delicious porcini macaroni and cheese on the menu there. We’d been planning a trip there for about a month now, but keep having to put it off for one reason or another – sickness, hurricanes, whatever. So, I made my own version at home this week – adding in a bit of our home brewed pumpkin ale, and it turned out absolutely incredible. Maybe even better than the original!
It’s really no more effort than a standard macaroni and cheese recipe, aside from soaking the porcini mushrooms before hand. It never ceases to amaze me the flavor punch that those little dried mushrooms contain. Love, love, love them! I’ve already added it to our menu for next week, this one is most definitely a winner!
Porcini and Pumpkin Ale Mac & Cheese
1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound (16 oz.) small pasta shape, such as shells
6 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Pumpkin ale (such as Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Fontina cheese, grated
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
Boil water and 1 tbsp kosher salt in a large stockpot. Once boiling, add pasta and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, rinsing pasta with cold water, and set aside until ready to use.
Place the dried mushrooms in a microwavable-safe bowl and cover with water. Cook on high for 30 seconds, and let sit and rehydrate for 10 minutes. Strain, and rougly chop.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the cremini mushroom and shallot, and saute for about 3 minutes, until starting to brown on the edge. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, and let cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the beer, as well as the milk, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. Add in cheese and chopped porcini mushrooms, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add pasta to the saucepan with the cheese sauce, and mix to combine. Place in 2 quart cassarole dish, sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the top, and bake for 1 hour or until browned and bubbly.
Source: inspired by Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats